Many visitors to Queensgate on Saturday afternoon expected a stroll in the sun for League One side Notts County, but that wasn’t the case.
Instead, Scarborough Athletic provided the likes of Jemal Campbell-Ryce, Dean Leacock and former Scarborough FC skipper Neal Bishop with a stiff examination, though County did edge the friendly fixture by a thrilling 3-2 scoreline.
In the early stages Keith Curle’s strong line-up looked to be using the game as a training exercise, passing the ball sweetly and swiftly around their hard-working opponents.
Boro were also in generous mood, with keeper Kevin Martin almost gifting an opening goal.
He opted to dribble the ball away from trouble, instead landing himself in it, though fortunately Josh Labadie’s shot was blocked by Paddy Miller.
Miller then showed his attacking side when back-heeling a Matty Plummer cross, but the County defence quickly slammed shut the door.
County then began to up the ante, creating a string of chances with their sharp football.
Manny Smith flashed a volley over the bar, before Yoann Arquin went close with a couple of efforts.
So it was something of a shock when Boro snatched the lead just minutes before the interval.
A quick attack saw Boro pepper the visiting goal with a string of shots. One of these, from winger Robbie Hawkes, struck the hand of a County defender, leading the ref to point to the spot. Ollie Ryan stepped up confidently and despatched the ball into the bottom corner.
Boro’s generous streak returned at the beginning of the second half, with centre-back Matt Draper presenting the ball to Labadie, who took advantage by picking out the back of the net.
Martin almost gave County their second when his clearance was charged down by former Leeds man Enoch Showunmi, but the Boro keeper gathered as the ball trickled towards goal.
Showunmi should have probably done a bit better soon after, but he hooked a volley over the bar from 10 yards.
It was against the run of play when an incisive move involving Miller and skipper Tommy Adams gave the ball to Bennett on the edge of the area. His first-time drive dipped sweetly over the keeper’s outstretched fingers and into the net.
Unfortunately for Boro though, County weren’t done.
With 10 minutes left on the clock Alan Judge collected 30 yards out and smashed superbly into the top corner.
Then, with the clock ticking on, Labadie capped his frenetic performance when he sliced through the Boro defence and drilled home.
Though it was probably a fair result, Boro will have taken a lot of the game, and with one friendly outing remaining before the season kicks off, Rudy Funk’s preparations do look all-but complete.
Boro: Martin, Plummer, Clayton, Winters, Milne, Draper, Miller, Adams, Bennett, Hawkes, Ryan. Subs: Ingram, Hepples, Hewitt, Law, Kemp.
Notts County: Bialkowski, Regan, Smith, Leacock, Sheehan, Mahon, Liddle, Bishop, Campbell-Ryce, Arquin, Judge. Subs: Spiess, Hughes, Labadie, Bencherif, Showunmi.